Browse Exhibits (2 total)

Roman Cauponae


This exhibit explores how the art and text found on the walls of Roman taverns, especially those known as cauponae, convey the attitudes and behaviors of their patrons. Cauponae served as both taverns and inns, offering hot meals and wine as well as beds for the night. They were frequented by slaves, seamen and others of low social status, whose earthy and often vulgar sense of humor is conveyed in the graffiti they left behind. Common pastimes of these tavern-goers, such as eating, gambling, and lovemaking, also come to life on the walls of the cauponae.

The primary focus of this exhibit is the city of Pompeii, which was famously buried during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. As a result, the cauponae of Pompeii are particularly well-preserved, and their walls supply a wealth of evidence for how the common people lived in the early Roman Empire.

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Sacrificial Food

This exhibit covers foods in the Greek Archaic period (800 BC – 480 BC) that were made as sacrifices to the gods. It examines practices and stories connected to preparation and consumption of foods with religious and sacrifical significance. It employs physical objects and primary literary sources in order to access a deeper understanding of which foods were eaten in a religious context and why.

We look, first, at the concept of sacrifice: its etiology as well as the basic choices of food for sacrifice. We examine how the Greeks explained why they did what they did and what that tells us about the origins of these practices. We next look at the most commonly sacrificed food, meat. From this comes an explanation of how sacrifice was performed, where, and under what conditions, be they casual or ceremonial. Lastly, we look at liquid sacrifices--libations. This finally gives us a greater understanding of the connection sacrfiice could establish between people and gods. These items draw connections between other areas of food study and the religious experiences, ideas, and narratives that existed in the Greek world.  


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